Mac, Hap TA stumble out of the gate

Maccabi’s 5-1 loss to by Besiktas JK in Turkey ends without incident; Hapoel falls to a bitterly disappointing 1-0 loss at Bloomfield.

Omer Damari and Ezequias (photo credit: REUTERS)
Omer Damari and Ezequias
(photo credit: REUTERS)
After spending all week worrying about events off the field, Maccabi Tel Aviv is now left to ponder whether it might be in over its head in the Europa League group stage after being thrashed 5-1 by Besiktas JK on Thursday night in Istanbul.
Despite the escalating crisis between the Israeli and Turkish governments, there was no fan trouble at Inonu Stadium, although several hundred demonstrators protested with Palestinian flags outside the stadium during the match.
The Turkish police ensured that Maccabi’s safety was never under any threat, but Tel Aviv’s defense failed to similarly protect its goal, and Moti Ivanir’s players suffered a humbling defeat.
Hugo Almeida’s third-minute opener was the last thing Maccabi needed at such an early stage of the match, and the Portuguese striker doubled Besiktas’s lead in the 28th minute.
Roei Kehat’s goal three minutes into the second half gave the visitors some hope, but Mehmet Aurelio (50) and Egemen Korkmaz (53) quickly ensured that the three points would remain in Istanbul, and Edu’s 88th minute strike piled the misery on Maccabi, which is expected to have an equally difficult time when it hosts Dynamo Kiev in its next group match in two weeks’ time.
Kiev drew 1-1 with Stoke City on Thursday in Group E’s other match.
While Maccabi always knew that it would struggle in Turkey, Hapoel Tel Aviv was a firm favorite to defeat Rapid Bucharest in its group opener on Thursday, only to fall to a bitterly disappointing 1-0 loss at Bloomfield Stadium.
Ovidiu Herea scored the only goal of the match in the 55th minute, but Hapoel coach Dror Kashtan managed to see the positive side of the frustrating loss.
“I’m certainly disappointed,” Kashtan said. “But the Romanians only reached one chance in the match and they played very ugly soccer. We dominated the match, but their goalkeeper [Danut Coman] had a great day.”
Hapoel’s defeat seriously complicates its situation in Group C and it can’t afford another loss at Legia Warsaw in its next match in two weeks time.
Warsaw lost 1-0 to PSV Eindhoven on Thursday.
Maccabi Haifa saved Israeli pride later Thursday, defeating AEK Larnaca 1-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium in its Group J opener. Mohammad Ghadir scored the winner in the 54th mintue and ensured that Israeli soccer had something to smile about after Tel Aviv's big two lost.

The yellow-and-blue got off to the worst possible start in Turkey.
Aurelio’s through ball caught Tel Aviv’s defense completely off guard and Almeida coolly lobbed the ball over Guy Haimov’s head to give Besiktas an early opener.
The yellow-and-blue’s defense simply couldn’t handle Almeida at the beginning of the encounter and the Portuguese striker doubled the hosts’ lead in the 28th minute.
Ricardo Quaresma’s pass from the left flank left Almeida with only Haimov to beat, and despite saving the striker’s first attempt, the Maccabi ’keeper was soon picking the ball out of the back of the net after Almeida headed in the rebound.
Maccabi coach Moti Ivanir, who was handed a three-match sideline ban following Tel Aviv’s playoff tie against Panathinaikos, decided to take a chance in the second half, introducing forwards Eliran Atar and Barak Itzhaki from the bench in an attacking substitution.
Three minutes after the break Ivanir looked like a genius, with Atar sending an excellent cross from the left and Kehat heading Maccabi back into the game.
However, within five minutes, Tel Aviv’s hopes were dashed, with the Turks scoring two goals that left Ivanir’s substitutions looking reckless.
In the 50th minute, Manuel Fernandes’s free kick from the right was headed in by an unmarked Aurelio, and three minutes later Korkmaz’s diving header ended any lingering hope Tel Aviv may have had of leaving Istanbul with a point.
Edu poured salt on Maccabi’s wounds with a fifth goal two minutes from time, leaving Tel Aviv with plenty to mull over ahead of its next Europa League match against Kiev in two weeks’ time.
At Bloomfield, Hapoel struggled to break down the Romanians defense and when it finally managed to, it couldn’t beat Coman.
After 33 minutes, the Bucharest ’keeper did well to keep out Toto Tamuz’s header and somehow Maharan Lala and Tamuz failed to tuck in the rebound from the goalmouth.
Eight minutes later, Mirko Oremus spotted Tamuz on the edge of the area, but his powerful effort was cleared by Coman.

Ten minutes into the second half, Bucharest struck on the break.
Herea was left unmarked in the Hapoel box and the midfielder headed in his third goal in four outings.
Tel Aviv’s response was disappointing, with Kashtan’s men not reaching a good chance to equalize until the 87th minute when substitute Salim Toama had time and space inside the Rapid box, only to send a powerful shot straight at the excellent Coman.
Avihai Yadin and Rapid’s Romeo Surdu were sent off in the 90th minute after kicking each other, and Hapoel players knew it wasn’t their day after Coman saved Tamuz’s close-range shot in stoppage time.